Daydream Goes on the Market

One of Queensland’s original major attractions, Daydream Island has been a popular destination since the 1930s.

Vaughan Bullivant, who has owned the Queensland resort since 2000, said the time was right to look at the next phase of Daydream’s ownership.

It has been hit with cyclones and recessions and was at one of its lowest ebbs when bought by Mr Bullivant for a reported $25 million. He invested heavily in the island during the past decade with a series of upgrades that tested his resources. More than 100,000 tourists visited last financial year, a substantial increase from the previous year, and the resort has been in the black for the past two years.

CBRE Hotels Brisbane’s senior director Wayne Bunz has been engaged to sell the resort and expressions of interest have been called, closing March 14.

Daydream Island Resort and Spa has 296 rooms and suites, each offering views of tropical waters or rainforest.

It is also home to the world’s largest man-made coral reef lagoon known as The Living Reef and the Rejuvenation Spa, a world-class facility with 16 treatment rooms that offers health and beauty treatments.

Whitsunday tourism began on Daydream Island, or West Molle Island as it was then known, in 1933 when it was purchased by retired army major Paddy Murray and his wife. In 1947 the island was purchased by airline tycoon Sir Reginald Ansett, who then closed the resort in 1953, dismantling the buildings and shipping them to his new resort on Hayman Island. Daydream was closed until 1967 when it was sold to Bernie Elsey, who conducted a massive redevelopment of the island. The resort was destroyed by Cyclone Ada three years later.

In 1989, Daydream was bought by Jennings Industries and Peter Laurance who spent $120 million on it. Village Roadshow bought it from them for $22.5 million in 1996, and spend several more millions on it. In 2000, Village Roadshow sold it for a song – just $12.5 million – to prominent Queensland developer Keith Williams and Mr Bullivant – the Christchurch-born founder of the Natures Own vitamin brand that he sold in 1999 for $137 million.

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